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What they're saying

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 9, 2001


While doing his film room homework, Tampa Bay's Mr. Large-and-Mean (aka Warren Sapp) will take special notice, and delight, at something basically never seen in the NFL:

A quarterback named Quincy running the option play.

In the perfect world of a defensive lineman, particularly one with the All-Pro talents of a Sapp, every Sunday would be about No Rules-No Flags when it comes to making contact with a quarterback. But to hear the gripes, you'd think the league allows no breathing within 5 feet of those prissy fellows.

Now, however, will come this wonderful news for Warren. With the Dallas Cowboys being Tampa Bay's regular-season opener, a rookie quarterback was observed on film successfully running the option in an exhibition game against the Raiders.

Would the Cowboys dare do this on a regular basis? If so, Sapp will think he's ordering off a room-service menu. The meal will be delivered to him, instead of having to chase it down. -- Randy Galloway, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

* * *

... That Dallas team rose from the ashes of a 1-15 season in 1989 -- the first under owner Jerry Jones -- to win three NFL titles in four years. They were the nation's most loved -- and despised -- pro football team. They generated great ratings while capturing the imagination of the football public.

Those Cowboys come to mind because the 2001 season is about to begin without a sliver of hope. Sports Illustrated chose Dallas as the worst team in the league. Even the most optimistic soul cannot foresee six victories.

What went wrong?

Well, plenty. A series of bad drafts, injuries, poor personnel decisions and salary cap pressures have robbed the Cowboys of depth and backbone. The talent pool has evaporated like a desert mirage, but there is a bigger problem in Big D, one that casts a black cloud over the entire organization.

The problem is discipline. -- Rick Cantu, Austin American-Statesman

* * *

The Bucs are supposed to be better because they have a proven QB in Brad Johnson and one of the NFL's best overall defenses.

Quincy Carter, Jerry Jones' anointed quarterback, was successful running the option in friendlies, although All-Pro linebacker Derrick Brooks is not one to run options against. Jones still thinks his team will go 10-6. More like 0-16, although in their awful years the Cowboys usually beat Washington once. -- Dave Goldberg, Associated Press

* * *

When Tampa Bay played Dallas last December, the Bucs rushed for a franchise-record 250 yards. The Cowboys ranked 31st in the NFL in run defense a year ago and have subtracted three stout run defenders from their front seven since then: Chad Hennings, Leon Lett and Alonzo Spellman.

But Tampa Bay isn't going to run the ball because of the opponent. The Bucs are going to run because they've determined that's their best path to a Super Bowl.

Tampa Bay's identity in the Tony Dungy era has been that of a fast, physical defensive football team. But try as they might, the Bucs never could establish an offensive identity. They became a mish-mash of game-day agendas. -- Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News

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